How to let go of a toxic relationship

I’ve struggled with letting go of relationships that weren’t good for me for years. Before I really learned what interactions made me feel good vs. what drained me, I always used to blame myself – like I just didn’t know how to “do” relationships.

I’d feel bad after a conversation and think, “It’s my issue. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing.”

I’d feel exhausted after interacting with someone and say, “It’s not that big of a deal. She’s there for me in other ways.”

All this “me me me” thinking – that I was the crazy one, confused me.

Why was I frustrated, drained, and unsure of myself with certain people, when I felt calm and comfortable in my skin with others?

That was before I started to experiment. I tested out being an observer of my life – just spectating without making judgements – until things became very clear. By neutrally watching my interactions and how I felt with certain people over others, it became clear it wasn’t just me: I CONSISTENTLY felt weak, tired, or bad with certain people and CONSISTENTLY healthy and good around others.

Key word: consistently.

I’ve spent the last decade studying my life intentionally and getting to know MYSELF. I know what works and what doesn’t work for me. Today I’ll share how to do the really hard task of letting go of relationships that don’t serve you anymore. It’s never easy and each time I’ve done it, it’s required a lot of courage. But it’s also given me back confidence, energy, and a life I enjoy. I trust myself and my intuition more than anything now, and you MUST practice this if you want to feel healthy, whole, and good about your life, not just sleepwalk through it.

Watch this week’s video, to see how I did it.
Last year I let go of a close relationship I’d had for many years. Internally, I needed to release a lot of emotions and expectations about what I wanted out of the relationship, and what this person wanted from me. It took a lot of time and effort. Part of my strategy was being an observer and noticing how I felt around this person. Another part was journaling about my reactions and feelings when I interacted with them or they said things to me. I spent months doing this and after adding up all the data, I realized it was clear. I consistently felt crappy around this person and I had to let the relationship go.

I had the hard conversation.

Not only did I feel huge relief when I woke up the next morning, I felt joyful. An emotional weight had been lifted. And even though there was some sadness letting it go, I KNEW my heart was in the right place because it felt lighter, clear, and calm. Feeling this way about something is how you KNOW that it’s trustworthy.

Zen-Proverb-Let-go-or-be-draggedPhoto credit: loveoflifequotes.com

Watch today’s video to learn 9 ways to let go of a toxic relationship, or a relationship that doesn’t serve you anymore. It’s not easy, but it IS definitely worth it.

1) Write out your desires & needs for your relationships NOW.
As you currently are. Not what you wanted five years ago, ten years ago, or even last year. You change every day and evolve, so do your desires and values. As you change, your relationships need to as well. Write down what you need now in this relationship or with friends and compare it to the one you’re thinking of letting go. See if it measures up to what you need now. In my case, it consistently fell below the bar for what I needed as a healthy, happy adult.

2) Make a list of the people you LOVE being around.
These are the people who give you energy, make you feel positive and make you feel better about yourself. Conversely make a list of people who drag you down or whom you feel drained by. See where that person and relationship falls. Which list are they on?

3) Make a list of all the grievances you have with the person.
You may not end up talking to them about it (I didn’t need to, to fully release the relationship), but you might. If you feel like you need to talk to them about it, do so. Otherwise, make the list for YOURSELF. Read it, cry about it, get angry at the things you felt wronged by, and then BURN IT UP or rip it. Do a ritual around it. You don’t need to actually have words if your ritual is enough to feel clear hearted. I didn’t need to say “You did this and that” because what was more important was that I’d made an INTERNAL shift and was ready to release it.

4) Track your progress.
Here’s a helpful exercise: On one side of a piece of paper, list the efforts, conversations, and everything you’ve done to try to make it work with this person or friend. This works for both romantic relationships and friendships. On the other side, write out the positive results that came from all that effort and trying. This is your own metrics-based analysis. Look at how many positive results have come from all the work. For me, after all the trying and talking, we just kept rehashing the same thing and nothing changed. So much effort, virtually no progress. THAT is a very clear sign you’re ready to move on.

When no more goodness, fun, or ease is there, the only thing left to do is stop trying.

5) Shut out the noise and be completely honest with yourself.
Ask your heart and your body in a calm moment, “Is this person good for me? Does my soul feel good around them?” You WILL get an answer. My answer was very clear and yours will be too. Learn to tune out all the other stuff going on, other people’s opinions and tune in to YOURSELF. Turn it all off and you’ll be able to hear your signals and listen to what your body tells you.

6) Make a list of how this person makes you feel about yourself.
Take notice, do they make you feel good or bad? What qualities do they inspire you to feel? If you’re leaning toward: bad about myself, weak, drained, less than, stifled, suffocated, run down, mowed over, that’s the WRONG direction. What you’re looking for is when you feel uplifted, energized, confident, comfortable, at ease, positive.

7) Make a list of the support and relationships you have now.
Contrary to the last list, this one shows you how amazingly supported you ARE and how much love and blessings you DO have in your life. This gives you enough strength to let go of the toxic relationship. When I created my list, I had a burst of energy at the people in my life who genuinely supported me. I stopped attaching so much to the friendship I needed to let go of, and saw that with the existing group of people, I could totally get what I needed.

8) Create your own toolbox.

When you have to make a tough decision, sometimes you can’t do it all by your lonesome.

Get your inspirational books out, hunker down on your spiritual practices, and stop spending time with the wrong people and instead – invite the right ones to your house for tea. I always have my journal, candles, meditation practice, books that mean the world to me, spiritual mentors – around for a particular time of need. I put anything and everything that supports me in my toolbox because one day, the time will come when I’m at rock bottom and NEED IT. Start building your toolbox of support if you don’t already have one.

9) Respect the friendship for what it DID give you.
Honor the relationship by writing and being grateful for what it did give you. Once you slow down from anger or remorse, you’ll see it HAS given you a lot, even through the frustration. You wouldn’t question letting it go so much if it hadn’t served you in some good way. Write down the beauty, joy and love that came from it at one point in time. Then honor the changes you need to move forward.

Respect who you are now, by looking at your past and looking at what you need to move forward and evolve.

So even if you’re scared, try it. Change is the scariest thing in the world, especially with loved ones and close relationships. It can be so hard to even think about letting go of a friendship or person, but if you’ve been consistently feeling bad or sad, it’s time to start thinking about it. It’s NOT just you. It’s your intuition and your soul talking.

xx Ishita

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